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Alternate History

GPO (Caroline Era)

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The GPO is the General Post Office, the British postal and telecommunications service. After a four-year period during which the telecommunications were handled separately, the Thatcher Government announced that the telecoms organisation would be privatised. This was one of the decisions which was reversed in the notorious U-Turn of 1983. The Labour victory of 1984 brought a number of major policy reversals, including the absorption of British Telecom into the GPO.

In the early 1980s, microcomputers had not themselves been authorised for connection to telephone landlines and acoustic couplers had been used. This changed in 1984, when Sinclair's bid for the contract to provide computers for a national online data service was accepted. This enabled Sinclair computers alone to be connected directly to landlines. The GPO then commissioned Sinclair to produce the Ambassador II, a more advanced version of the original Ambassador, which was released in 1985. One of the Ambassador II's features was a telephone handset, and the GPO proceeded to rent it out as a replacement for rotary dial telephones. Also in 1985, the GPO started a cellular radio service and mobile telephone system. This was a short-lived fad only used as a gimmick by the wealthy because it proved too easy for the encryption to be cracked and large bills to be racked up by criminals on premium rate numbers, and nowadays mobile 'phones are rare, though the cellular radio system is used for other purposes.

Today, the GPO mainly provides telecom services and post has been in decline for a long period of time. It is now mainly used for parcel delivery.

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